• My brother will call Norman ^ and John, no doubt, will call June.

Do you put a comma, a semicolon, or nothing in place of this mark "^"? This sentence is from a grammar book, and you only have three options: use a comma or a semicolon, or don't put anything in place of "^".

The conjunction "and" would call for a comma, but the short phrase " no doubt" makes me think of a semicolon.

  • I put nothing there. The no doubt clearly references John and breaks the Norman and John connection as combined actors.
    – EllieK
    Jan 27 at 17:58

A comma is workable. I personally would be inclined to use a dash, but that is perhaps less common. I believe that a semicolon should not be used unless the "and" is removed, as a semicolon is not used before a conjunction.

  • Here is an earlier answer to a similar question: english.stackexchange.com/questions/121809/… Googling semicolon before and would indicate that there is a difference of opinion on its use before a conjunction. Jan 26 at 23:27
  • I would use a semicolon, as suggested in earlier answers and some style guides. There's obviously room for disagreement. Jan 26 at 23:37
  • 1
    @Khaled "most suitable" is something of a judgement call. No one would argue that a comma was wrong. I think a dash better expresses the greater separation between the two parts of the sentence.If a semicolon is considered acceptable, it would also indicate that, but in my view not as well.. Jan 26 at 23:40
  • @Khaled When taking tests from a book one must follow the book's rules, but when writing for oneself, there is more flexibility, and that is what may answers are based on. Jan 26 at 23:51

To answer the question as you asked, the only acceptable punctuation that I would consider is a comma. This is not a list, or anything like that, so I would not consider a semi-colon to be normal usage.

However, if I was writing this myself, I would probably write: "My brother will call Norman. John, no doubt, will call June."

  • 1
    Your comment should have been part of the question. How are we to know that "there are only three options?". People can only answer the question that you ask.
    – James K
    Jan 26 at 23:44

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